If chickens are raised on the farm, is a plant for processing those chickens considered part of that agricultural use? That was the question presented to the Commonwealth Court in this case. After analyzing the specific language of the municipal zoning ordinance, the court concluded such a facility was part of an agricultural use and therefore was permitted in a district that only allowed agriculture uses.
Balady Farms owned a property in Paradise Township’s Rural Conservation (RC) district, where it raised approximately 28,000 chickens at a time. Balady proposed converting an existing storage building on the property into a processing facility for the chickens raised there. The township zoning officer concluded such a commercial chicken processing operation was not permitted in the RC district where only “agriculture” uses were permitted. Balady filed an application with the township Zoning Hearing Board (“ZHB”) seeking an interpretation of whether the proposed facility fell within the Zoning Ordinance’s definition of “agriculture.” The Ordinance defined “agriculture,” in pertinent part, as “[a]n enterprise that is actively engaged in the commercial production and preparation for market or use of … livestock and livestock products.” The ZHB interpreted this definition not to include the proposed facility, and the Court of Common Pleas of York County affirmed the decision.
On appeal, the Commonwealth Court reversed. It applied the dictionary definitions of “commercial,” “commerce,” “production,” and “preparation” to the Ordinance’s “agriculture” definition and found the proposed facility was encompassed by within it. Therefore the processing facility was permitted by right in the RC district.
Click here to read: Balady Farms, LLC v. Paradise Twp. ZHB, 171 CD 2016 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Oct. 4, 2016).